Bodegas Protos Winery, Penafiel, Valladolid


Bodegas Protos is a large collective winery based at Peñafiel, a small village near Valladolid in the Ribera del Duero wine-growing region of northern Spain. To respond to increasing demand and to modernise production, Bodegas Protos commissioned Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to design a new building, now complete, to process 1 million kilos of grapes a year. Set at the base of a small hill surmounted by a medieval castle, the new winery, a modern reinterpretation of traditional winery construction, is connected by an underground link to the original Bodegas Protos winery – part of which is a subterranean area beneath the castle with more than 2 kilometres of tunnels and galleries for ageing wine.

The use of traditional materials – locally sourced timber, terracotta tiles, local stone - and the use of form to reduce scale has resulted in a building which complements the traditional architecture of the area and responds to the historic castle which sits directly above it.


Building Description

Different stages of the wine-making process require different temperatures and humidity levels. The production area – where grape processing and fermentation take place – requires a temperature of 20 – 24°C without humidity control. The cellar, where the wine ages, requires a temperature of 14 – 16°C, with high humidity levels in the barrel storage area, but low humidity levels in the areas where bottles are stored. The new building achieves these requirements by reinterpreting traditional cooling technology using contemporary materials and forms.

The building is triangular in plan and consists of two main elements, a deep concrete basement surmounted by a light, airy enclosure, and five interlinked parabolic vaults formed by glulam timber arches and clad with terracotta tiles. The basement is two levels deep; the lower level stores maturing wine and the level above houses production - fermentation and storage vats, the bottling plant and packaging equipment areas, all served by vehicle access bays. Office, wine-tasting areas and other visitor facilities are also at this level. The whole is enclosed by the glulam timber vaults which allow natural light into the building yet cut off solar gain. The largest vault on the south west side is the main entrance for visitors and employees. Its overhang provides extra space for viewing the production facility below.


The Timber Roof Structure

The building’s triangular form makes maximum use of the site, resolves differences in site levels and creates a horizontal plane on which the roof structure stands. The roof support structure consists of five vaults of glulam timber arches; they span 18 metres, rising from the ground like trees in an uplifting sculptural gesture and decreasing in length to suit the triangular site. The largest vault consists of 11 glulam arches which are spaced 9m apart to extend 90m in length, while the smallest vault is 18m long and consists of only three arches.

Arup was appointed structural engineer up to Stage D of the design (to control costs, local engineers were subsequently involved). Ed Newman-Sanders, an associate at Arup who worked on Protos, says: ‘The client wanted a roof structure linked to the wine-making process. The concept of barrel vaults, with the obvious connections with wine barrels, was settled on as a good idea, but the relatively shallow arching of the envelope didn’t lend itself to good structural arching.’ To achieve an optimum structural arch, as close as possible to an inverted catenary, the concept was developed of lifting the envelope off the structure and ‘floating’ it above the vaults on steel V-shaped props. The stainless-steel V-props are set at six points over each arch and vary in length because the relationship between the parabolic arch and the circular roof surface changes constantly. A series of stainless-steel tension rods are also fixed to the timber shell to give the structure lateral stability.

The assembly of the timber structure took about six months, beginning with the south-east end, the smallest vault. The glulam arches came in two pieces and were first locked into stainless-steel triangular feet — a steel pin connection is contained inside, with a timber plug concealing it — and were then fixed into the middle of the arch. The elements were designed to be self-supporting during construction, so that no scaffolding was needed.

Above the arches, primary glulam beams run along the length of the vaults, with secondary glulam beams spanning between them at 3m intervals — three sets of secondary timber beams are set between the arches. The sandwich panels, which comprise two layers of 200mm wide, 6m long individual timber planks with an insulating layer between, were laid and fixed to the timber shell supported by the secondary beams. A rubber roofing membrane was then laid across the sandwich panels, followed by laminated pine battens positioned every 1.5m across the roof. The 40mm thick, 300mm x 1500mm terracotta tiles were fixed by clips onto the battens, allowing each tile to expand and contract individually.

The external elevations to the vaults are infilled with a simple aluminium-framed double-glazing system. To protect the glazed south elevation from the intense sun, the facade is set back to provide a 10.5m deep overhang to the roof. On the less exposed north elevation the roof overhang is only 1.5m.

The timber arches were pre-treated and at present they glow a warm honey colour in the sun. The pre-treated timber will gradually change colour as it weathers but will need to be stained regularly to prevent deterioration.



The timber vaults are highly insulated to maintain constant temperature conditions. The exterior skin is in contact with the roof only through the fixing pieces in its timber battens. This creates a ventilated roof similar to a rainscreen. As a result, the impact of heat gain from the sun is greatly reduced, as a large part of the heat accumulated by the external skin of the roof is dissipated by air moving through the cavity rather than radiating to the roof and the interior of the building. According to studies undertaken, this system lowers the internal load and reduces the external temperature of the roof at least 2ºC, generating a 10 per cent annual energy saving on the building.

Both the timber and concrete structures for Bodegas Protos were prefabricated in the central and northern parts of Spain and the transport of the finished pieces to the site greatly contributed to the reduction of waste during construction.

Douglas fir was specified as it was sourced in Spain, and timber allowed the design team to resolve particular details for the roof that could not have been achieved in steel.

Completion Date:


Year Published:

April 2010

Building Type:

Wine production building


Peñafiel, Valladolid, Spain


Bodegas Protos


Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Structural Engineer:

Arup / Boma / Agroindus

Main Contractor:

FCC Construction

Services Engineer:

BDSP Partnership / Grupo JG / Agroindus

Glulam Timber Structure:


Timber Element(s):

Glulam frame and roof structure

Timber Specie(s):

Douglas fir


RIBA European Award 2009 Stirling Prize shortlist IStructE Award Chicago Athaneum Award

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